Benefits of the Great Outdoors

How much time do you spend outside of a building vs. indoors? If you are like most, you spend a whole lot more time inside.

Humans aren’t meant to be indoor animals. It is not good for us to be inside all of the time. Yet most people in developed countries spend most of their days indoors.

Why should you take time to be outside? Below are 6 reasons:

Find your place in the universe.

Being outdoors helps you understand your place in the universe. You feel closer to the earth, its plants, animals, winds, tides, mountains, hills, valleys and streams. It helps you realize that you belong to the Earth’s systems – it helps you be one with the Earth.

Being part of the natural world teaches us that we are part of a natural system which includes the entire Earth and all of its systems.

An article in the American Psychological Association ‘Getting Back to the Great Outdoors‘ quoted Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit-Disorder” (Algonquin Books, 2005) as saying “Beyond the health and cognitive benefits children may gain from free and unstructured play outdoors, nature also provides them with a sense of wonder and a deeper understanding of our responsibility to take care of the Earth. Yet increasingly, nature is the last place you’ll find children, research shows.”

Lose your daily problems.

Your daily problems fade when confronted with the splendor and enormity of nature. Being outside helps you meditate on the beauty and complexity of nature and lifts you out of yourself and your man made problems, and may even heal physical ailments sooner.

The Daily Mail reported that  Professor Roger Ulrich, a leading expert in the benefits of natural green space noted that hospital patients who had a room with a natural view went home 2 – 3 days before patients that had a room with a view of buildings.

Reduce stress.

Studies, again by Professor Roger Ulrich, prove that heart rate and blood pressure drop faster if stressed people are in a natural surroundings as opposed to indoors. Feeling the wind on your cheek, letting your eyes scan the distance, hearing the water in the stream and the birds in the trees gets us outside of ourselves, helping us forget our stressors.

Get nutrition.

The very best source of vitamin D is natural sunshine – obtained outdoors.

Move more.

Physical movement feels good and is good for you. Outdoor exercise is more physically challenging and mentally stimulating than indoor exercise. When you are outside, you do more and enjoy it more. Your children get more exercise, mentally and physically. They become more fit and creative if they get nature time outdoors.

Sense more.

Being outdoors enlivens your senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and hearing. You have an increased ability to focus after returning indoors.

In the article, “Great Outdoors – 6 Benefits for Kids iVillage quoted the American Journal of Public Health as saying “exposure to ordinary natural settings in the course of common after-school and weekend activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children.”

Celebrate the day.

Of course we have a special day, National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) here in America to encourage folks to get outside. This year it is June 9. On that day federal agencies, non-profit organizations and recreational organizations are teaming up to offer information and activities across the nation.

According to the National Get Outdoors Organization website:

” The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008. Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, the USDA Forest Service (FS) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors.”

How much time do you spend outside? How about your kids? What kinds of things do you like to do and what kinds of benefits have you found?


Benefits of the Great Outdoors — 20 Comments

  1. I definitely agree! My fiancee is lucky enough to work outdoors all day long and he says he can’t imagine life any other way. Myself, I spend at least an hour a day outside running and I’m much more healthy both physically and mentally.

  2. I have been trying to get outside more recently by taking my dog for walks and bike rides with my girlfriend. I really need to be going to the beach more though considering it is a 5 minute walk from my house…

  3. On days when I don’t get the toddler out for an hour or three – the evening routine is unbearable. I swear the wee man lives on fresh air – and long many that continue.

    He has Forest kindi once per week – and today three parents didn’t turn up with their kids because it was raining, I mean if you live in Scotland and don’t take your kids out in the rain you are going to be inside most of the year LOL

  4. Living in Colorado we have some of the best outdoors in the US. I love going up in the mountains to go snowboarding or hiking because its a great way for me to unwind.

  5. What a wonderful post! We love to go hiking and find that when we’re out enjoying nature, we don’t think about anything else. It’s like a mental vacation and helps us to be totally in the moment. I often wonder why we let other things get in the way of regular outdoor “romps”. I’ve recently started to think about Permaculture and observing nature and how it all works together is one of the first steps to a sustainable life. In truth, there’s nothing bad about being out in nature! Thanks for a great reminder!

  6. I find nature centers me. It allows me to connect to what I once was and what I will be at the same time, presenting solutions to the here and now I never could have come up with in our distraction-polluted everyday life. I’m happy to see research is backing up what I’ve always known to be true for myself. 🙂

  7. I’m in and out all day. Partly because I want to and partly because I have to. In the mornings I walk around outside with my coffee to wake up (I won’t wake up if I sit in a chair). This morning, walking on the path (I have a few acres of woods) I heard deer steps, went up the path a bit and got to see a fleeing deer. After that I found a baby blue jay toddling around in the garden (they really do toddle, just like toddlers). I could hear adult blue jays in the trees, some were screeching and others were singing a very pretty, melodic song, that I love to hear. I looked at the baby for less than a minute then left- didn’t want to upset the adults.
    During the day I go out to pick weeds for my hens, since they are locked up because of a roaming band of daywalking raccoons. I check for eggs, and snakes. Egg checking is done several times a day. Lately I’ve been climbing up part of a hill to check the ripeness of the dewberries.
    I water the sorrel that popped up in a lot of containers in the garden, I keep it growing to feed to the hens.
    And sometime, just for fun, I just walk around watching the grasshoppers jump away from my feet.
    I keep a filled birdbath and a supply of cracked corn in the back yard. If I sit still on the bench I’ll usually see all kinds of birds drinking and eating, plus squirrels, many squirrels.
    Sometimes I rake the paths so I can walk very quietly and sneak closer to the wildlife.

    It all makes me good and tired by bedtime and I dream of animals, the best dreams to have 🙂

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